Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Comment on National Leadership: No Choice -- Withdrawal Starts in '08

From an LA Times Op-ed, "No choice -- withdrawal starts in '08," by two Fellows at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government." Money quote:

No Choice -- Withdrawal Starts in '08

The U.S. simply doesn't have the military manpower to sustain current troop levels in Iraq.

[ . . . ] the driver is not conditions in Iraq or politics in the United States but the hard realities of Army and Marine Corps readiness. As the troops' extended 15-month tours of duty end, the Army and Marine Corps simply don't have more troops to replace them. The withdrawal will be, in effect, the flip side of the surge.

This "drawdown" should come as no surprise.
[ . . . According to former CENTCOM Commander Army Gen. John P. Abizaid,] "When you look at the overall American force pool that's available, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps."

How is it possible that a nation with 300 million people, a $13 trillion GDP and a defense budget of more than $600 billion is unable to muster 30,000 additional troops and sustain the surge for even a full year? The bottom line is that the leaders responsible for our military -- the president, the secretary of Defense and Congress -- refused over the past six years (as their predecessors had before them) to recruit, train and equip more troops. Even after deciding to attack Iraq, this leadership neglected its duty to raise the forces required, until it was too late to affect the outcome.

The reasons are varied and complicated.
[ . . . .]

OYE Comment:

No, the reasons are not varied and complicated at all: Our national civilian leadership has refused to encourage even its strongest supporters, if eligible [healthy heterosexuals 41-or-under], to volunteer for military service.

This is basic stuff.


At 15 September, 2007 14:34, Anonymous OldVet said...

I agree wholeheartedly that the "supporters" need to be men. I live in a very conservative community and sent this letter to the Daily Herald, in Columbia, TN this morning:

"Is there discrimination against military veterans?"

Why do Middle Tennessee voters dislike military veterans in high political office? Isn’t this supposed to be the Volunteer State?

While contemplating the current euphoria in Lawrenceburg over Fred Thompson’s bid to be President, I was happy to find remarks from Fred in Missouri when he spoke to the VFW: “It was an honor to meet with the men and women who are living symbols of our defense of freedom. It is because of their sacrifices that America is the bright, clear beacon of hope and freedom to those who don't possess it. It reminded me how much we owe to our men and women in uniform today, as well as those who have already shed blood for our freedom. “

I looked up Mr. Thompson’s military service, and found he spent his time hiding out in law school during the Viet Nam conflict. Did he have “other priorities” like his idol Dick Cheney? Or do his 20 years as a Washington lobbyist count as combat? He was certainly around when it came to sopping up the gravy as an actor and lobbyist.

Intrigued, I looked at other Washington leaders upon whom Middle Tennesseans had bestowed their precious votes recently. Our two former Senators, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, were both of military age but did not serve in the military during the Viet Nam war. Neither did our two new Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Neither did Representative Marsha Blackburn or Representative Lincoln Davis. In 2004, Middle Tennessee voted for the current combat-avoiding White House team rather than the guy with shrapnel still in his leg. Interesting. This is bi-partisan cooperation in discrimination.

It looks to me like Middle Tennessee wants a team of Jed Clampett’s in Washington. They may have really scored with Frederick of Hollywood, who’s a role model for the Beverly Hillbillies. In fact it’s now clear that Tennessee prefers BLOCC’s for higher office – that’s “boot lickers, opportunists, and career climbers.”

That still leaves the disquieting evidence that Middle Tennessee refuse to select or support military veterans for high office.

Here’s a novel idea for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike: Identify some intelligent well-educated military veterans of Iraq combat service, and run them for office. We could use some tested men who will think twice about throwing away lives or starting wars. They would certainly be more reliable than the BLOCC’s whom Middle Tennessee usually supports with their votes. And since we have an all volunteer military service, you can rest assured of appropriate representation for the Volunteer State once again.

At 17 September, 2007 10:51, Anonymous Kevin Ryan said...

The OYE comment missed the problem which Professor Allison and I were highlighting. The problem is not getting enough Amercans (male female, citizen, immigrant, Republican, Democrat, hetero or not) into the Army. The problem is reforming our mobilization system so that we can more effectively get access to the thousands of troops we already have. This is an institutional malfunction for which both political and military leaders share responsiblity.


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